Crested Gecko Stress Signs: How To Prevent And Treat Stress

Crested Gecko Stress Signs

Although, Crested geckos are known for being healthy and are easy to care for, they are very easily stressed. As an owner, it’s essential to know the Crested gecko stress signs, how to treat stress and most importantly how to prevent it

You might notice Crested gecko stress signs in a new pet or in one that you’ve had for years. And although, Crested geckos can get stressed for various reason, it’s important to note that stress can also be a symptom of underlying illness.

In this article, we are going to cover how to meet your gecko’s needs in order to avoid stress and diseases aswell as:

  • Crested Gecko Stress Signs
  • Causes for Stress in Crested geckos
  • How to help a stressed Crested gecko
  • What does a healthy Crested gecko look like

Crested Gecko Stress

Crested gecko stress signs

Overall, Crested geckos are healthy animals and don’t suffer from life threatening diseases. However, one thing to look out for is Crested gecko stress signs.

Although, a hardy animal, even the Crested gecko can become sick and it’s your responsibility to spot the symptoms and act accordingly.

Crested geckos are fragile little creatures and can become stressed for many reason.

The good news is that you can prevent your Crested gecko from becoming stressed by simply providing them with good husbandry such as a well-balanced diet and correct habitat setup.

But how serious is stress in Crested geckos?

Can Crested Geckos Die From Being Stressed?

The answer to that question is yes. If your gecko is under constant stress and nothing is done about it, it can affect your gecko’s appetite and immune system. Subsequently, it can result in sickness and death.

Crested Gecko Stress Signs

Crested Gecko Gaping

To be able to act quickly and avoid your Crested gecko suffering from stress, you need to know what the Crested gecko stress signs look like.

The following is a list of Crested gecko stress signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Jumpy and running away when you get close
  • Hiding or burying itself in the substrate
  • Biting when you try to handle it
  • Gape at you with their mouth open. Crested geckos use this tactic to scare you, when they are feeling stressed or scared themselves
  • Being aggressive by jumping at the glass
  • Chirping, squeaking, growling type of sounds
  • Fast and heavy breathing
  • Tail slithering/waving when an S formation when being handled
  • Arching their back to look bigger
  • Sunken eyes, wrinkly skin. This is usually due to overheating and dehydration
  • Firing up’. This is when the Crested geckos will becomes a very bright color. This is not one of the most concrete Crested gecko stress signs as geckos can “fire up” for other reasons such as change in the environment and temperature. However, it’s still one to look out for
  • Lethargic and sluggish
  • Sudden weight loss. This can be a sign of stress and/or a symptom of a diseases
  • Tail drop. This is usually the result of your gecko feeling stressed, especially during handling. That’s why it’s so important to know how to handle your Crested gecko in a safe way to not cause it any stress. Read here about how to handle your Crested gecko How To Hold A Crested Gecko: Tips On Handling Crested Gecko

If your little guy is displaying any of the listed Crested stress signs, your must quickly begin to investigate the cause for your gecko feeling stressed.

Causes For Stress In Crested Gecko

Crested gecko stress signs
Crested Gecko Fired Up

Unfortunately, with Crested geckos, there are many factors that can cause stress.

Crested geckos are fragile creatures that can get easily stressed for any of the following reasons:

  • Not used to being handled or handled incorrectly
  • Humidity and temperature levels
  • Disrupted sleep and/or incorrect diet
  • Diseases
  • Incorrect habitat setup
  • Position of the enclosure

The causes listed above are also the first things you should check on if your Crested gecko is exhibiting any stress signs.

Let’s take a more detailed look at each cause for Crested gecko stress and how to prevent it from happening.

Stress In Crested Gecko When Handled

Crested geckos often feel stressed during handling time. The reasons for that can vary from environment to simply incorrect handling and more.

Do the following to avoid Crested gecko stress signs when handling:

  • When you bring your Crested gecko home for the first time, it’s essential that you don’t hold them straight away as it can cause them stress
  • During the first week, you should observe their health and how they settle in. After two weeks have passed you can start holding your gecko for 1 to 2 minutes each time
  • To avoid bringing stress to your new gecko during the setting in period, change their food and water in afternoon whilst the gecko is sleeping
  • When picking up your gecko, you should make slow movements such as opening the tank very slowly. Then open your hand to invite the gecko to climb into your palm. You can also use a branch or a cardboard tube to pick it up
  • It’s recommended to handle your gecko during the day. The reason for that is – in the evening hours, the gecko is much more alert and more likely to want to escape
  • Never squeeze your gecko or hold it by its tail
  • Hand walking. The best way to hold your Crested gecko is by learning the technique called “hand walking”
  • Don’t handle a baby Crested gecko. They are very jumpy at a young age and there is a higher chance of falling and hurting themselves. Once they have grown 3 inches, you can start introducing them to handling
Crested Gecko Stress Signs When Handled

If you notice any of the following Crested gecko stress signs during handling or when you attempt to pick it up, you should immediately put it down or not pick it up at all:

  • Tail waving. If your gecko starts waving their tail, especially in S formation, it means they are stressed and you should put them back in their enclosure. This is also a sign that their tail might drop which happens when they are severely stressed
  • Wriggling/jumping. If your gecko is trying to wriggle out of your hands and get away, it means they are stressed/scared
  • Fast and heavy breathing. This is another one of the Crested gecko stress signs that you shouldn’t ignore and let your gecko to calm down
  • Gaping with mouth wide open. If your gecko is gaping at you when you try to pick them up, it means they are stressed and it’s better to leave it alone
  • Arching its back. Another stress sign which means “back off”
  • Chirping, growling noises whilst being handled means they are stressed and not comfortable and should be put back in their enclosure

If you want to learn more on how to safely handle a Crested gecko and the “hand walking” technique click here How To Hold A Crested Gecko: Tips On Handling Crested Gecko

Humidity And Temperature Levels

Crested gecko stress signs

Crested gecko stress signs can be the result of incorrect humidity and temperature levels.

Temperature Levels

The Crested gecko natural habitat in New Caledonia is tropical and humid with temperatures ranging between 72°F to 86°F, depending on the season.

When kept as pets, you need to ensure that your Crested gecko’s enclosure is kept at temperatures of 72°F to 75°F and no more.

If your Crested gecko is kept at temperatures higher than 80°F for long periods of time, it can result in heat stress and be fatal.

As Crested geckos are very sensitive to heat, it only takes a few hours of being exposed to very high temperatures to result in heat stress.

To avoid this condition, you must ensure that your Crested gecko has:

  • A cool spot. You need to ensure your gecko has a cool spot with a temperature of 68°F to 70°F. And at night, the temperatures must drop to 65°F to 69°F
  • Thermostat. To achieve the ideal temperature for your Crested gecko’s enclosure, you will need a thermostat to track it

Read more about what Crested gecko need in their habitat setup here Crested Gecko Habitat Setup: How To Build A Perfect Tank

Signs of heat stress include:

  • Dehydration. You can tell your Crested gecko is dehydrated if it’s hiding and burying itself in the substrate
  • Lethargy
  • Constant laying or hiding
  • Inability to stick/climb on surfaces
  • Fast breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of balance
Humidity Levels

As Crested gecko’s natural environment is highly humid and tropical, you’ll need to ensure the humidity levels in their enclosure meet their needs. Getting the humidity right is highly important for your Crested gecko’s health.

Very high humidity can lead to bacterial/fungal growth and infections. On the other hand, low humidity will result in dehydration, lack of appetite and inability to stick/climb surfaces.

Humidity should be 60% during the day and at 80% during the night.

To ensure your Crested gecko’s enclosure maintains the correct humidity levels, follow this advice:

  • Use a spray bottle with purified water (never use tap water) to mist the tank
  • Mist twice per day – light mist in the morning and a stronger one at night
  • Use a digital hygrometer to measure the humidity levels

Disrupted Sleep And Incorrect Diet

The two things that all of us need in order to function well are good sleep and a nutritious diet. Crested geckos are no exemption.

  • Disrupted sleep. If your Crested gecko’s sleep cycle is not consistent, it can result in Crested gecko stress signs. For example, Crested geckos are nocturnal animals. Therefore, if you try to force your gecko to eat during the day when it’s meant to sleep, it can result in long term stress

  • Well-balanced diet. Another cause for Crested gecko stress signs is not providing your Crested gecko with a nutritious diet. When kept as pets, there are two options.

    One is commercial diet which is the easiest and safest. And the other one is a homemade diet. The second option requires close tracking of the nutrients in the foods you feed your gecko. Incorrect diet can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease

To learn more about Crested gecko diseases click here Do You Have A Sick Crested Gecko? Full Crested Gecko Health Guide

To avoid Crested gecko stress signs, it’s important to remember that when we decide to keep animals as pets, it’s our responsibility to meet their needs and to not try to force them to our human schedule.

Diseases That Lead To Stress

Crested gecko diseases and stress go hand in hand. Stress can be either the cause for a sickness or the other way around – the symptom of an underlying condition.

That’s why it’s important to both know what are the Crested gecko stress signs and what to look into if your gecko is stressed, such as:

  • Temperature and humidity levels
  • Habitat set up

If your Crested gecko’ stress is a symptom of a disease, you should look for the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Constant laying and hiding
  • Drop in activity levels
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Soft jaw and bones
  • Tail and back kinking

If there isn’t apparent reason for your gecko being stressed and the Crested gecko stress signs are persisting, the cause is most likely an underlying illness.

In this case, you need to take your gecko to the vet immediately to identify it and start treatment.

Incorrect Habitat Setup

One of the most important factors for Crested gecko’s health is the environment they live in.

To avoid stress in Crested gecko, you need to provide them with an enclosure that meets their needs.

Although, the Crested gecko doesn’t have many specific requirements, it’s still important to provide them with an adequate enclosure that meets all their needs and most importantly helps them avoid stress.

The following is the recommended basics that your Crested gecko needs in terms of habitat set up:

  • Size. The minimum size requirement is a 20 gallon tank for an adult, 18″ x 18″ x 24″
  • Material of enclosure. It’s recommended to get your Crested gecko a glass tank, that’s vertical. The glass material will make it easier to observe your gecko’s behaviour
  • Vertical. Crested geckos are arboreal, it means that they prefer to be somewhere high off the ground. Therefore, the ideal enclosure for your Crested gecko is vertical with branches for them to climb on
  • Basic necessities. You Crested gecko needs a water source and a food bowl as basics needs
  • Hiding spot. This is especially important to avoid stress in your Crested gecko. Providing them with somewhere to hide and feel safe in their enclose is essential for their health
  • Decorations. In order for your gecko to be happy and most importantly avoid stress, you should fill their enclosure with plenty of decorations such as leaves, climbing vines, sticks, logs, rocks that mimics their natural habitat. This will keep your crested gecko occupied and stress free
Position Of Enclosure/Cage

Another factor that can lead to Crested gecko stress signs is the position of their enclosure.

It’s important to place your gecko’s tank away from loud noises and any possible chaos. Crested geckos need to be kept in a calm and quiet environment to avoid stress.

Clean Habitat

In addition to all the tank requirements, you need to ensure their enclosure is kept clean. The gecko’s tank will require:

  • Daily spot cleaning
  • Once a month deep clean of enclosure and decorations

How To Help A Stressed Crested Gecko

If your gecko is exhibiting Crested gecko stress signs, you can do the following to help it calm down:

  • Avoid handling them for at least 1 day
  • Place a blanket over the enclosure. That will help them relax and feel safer
  • Ensure temperature and humidity levels are right
  • Deep clean the enclosure and strip it down to the bare minimum. Use paper towel substrates until you see improvement in health

If there is loss of appetite aswell, try the following:

  • To help with bringing back their appetite, try giving them puree of fruits such as papaya, figs, bananas. You can sprinkle some CGD powder to add vitamins and minerals. Click here to find out more about fruits that you can feed your gecko that can help with bringing their appetite back Can Crested Geckos Eat Fruit: Safe Fruits For Crested Geckos

  • Another way to feed them is by using a small wooden stick and dipping it in a Repashy mixture. This can make it easier for them to eat by licking the food off the stick

  • Feed them by using a syringe straight to their mouth

If any health issue persist, contact a specialised vet and never leave it for too long.

What Does A Healthy Crested Gecko Look Like

In addition to knowing what are the Crested gecko stress signs to look out for, it’s equally important to know what a healthy Crested gecko looks like.

Everytime you clean your gecko’s enclosure, you should use it as an opportunity to check on your gecko’s health.

A healthy Crested gecko should present with the following:

  • Alert – Although, Crested geckos are nocturnal, they should be alert when picked up even during daytime hours. Geckos have different personalities and some might be calmer than others. However, they should always react with at least direct eye contact when handled. If you have a sick Crested gecko, it will be shaking and struggling to maintain balance

  • Clean – Another thing to look out for when inspecting your Crested gecko’s health is cleanliness. A healthy gecko will have clean skin, free from infection, no discharge from nose, eyes or ears. However, skin infection shouldn’t be confused with shedding skin stuck on the gecko as that’s normal. The same goes if your gecko’s skin appears darker in color, that doesn’t mean infection as Crested geckos are known for changing their color depending on multiple factors such as environment and mood

  • Body Weight. A healthy Crested gecko has a sturdy body build. If they appear thin it can mean that you have a sick Crested gecko on your hands. When inspecting your gecko, the hip bones should not be sticking out.
    However, it’s important to note that ribs might be on show in younger geckos which is normal. 

How To Ensure Your Crested Gecko Stays Healthy

In the wild, a sick Crested gecko, automatically becomes an easier prey for the predators. For that reason, the Crested gecko has learned how to hide any sickness. This means that it’s harder for owners to tell if they have a sick Crested gecko.

To ensure that you don’t miss any health problems that your Crested gecko might have, you should take extra care and perform the following checks:

  • Check their weight weekly. Any unexpected weight loss can mean sick Crested gecko
  • Keep a diary where you record every weight check, behaviour and moods, etc
  • Any responsible Crested gecko owner should have a reptile first-aid kit in case of injury or sickness

Crested Gecko First Aid Kit

The perfect Crested gecko first aid kid should contain the following:

  • Eye dropper
  • Syringe (the smallest you can find)
  • KY Jelly (lubricant)
  • Cotton swabs (q-tips)
  • Reptile-safe topical disinfectant (.05% chlorhexidine, Betadine, etc)
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Pedialyte
  • Gram Scale
  • Disposable gloves
  • Vet phone number including out of hours
  • Gauze pads 
  • Sterile saline flush
  • Adhesive tape (cloth and waterproof)
  • Antiseptic wipes or spray
  • Scissors

Final Thoughts

Looking after your Crested gecko’s health is an essential part of caring for them and providing good husbandry. Crested geckos are fragile animals and can get stressed very easily.

In this article we covered recognizing the Crested gecko stress signs and what to do if your gecko is stressed.

As mentioned earlier in the article, the main Crested gecko stress signs to look out for are:

  • Jumpy and running away when you get close
  • Hiding or burying itself in the substrate
  • Trying to bite when you try to handle it
  • Gape at you with their mouth open
  • Being aggressive by jumping at the glass
  • Chirping, squeaking, growing type of sounds
  • Fast and heavy breathing
  • Tail slithering/waving when handling in an S formation
  • Arching their back to look bigger
  • Firing up’
  • Sunken eyes, wrinkly skin. This one of the Crested gecko stress sign is usually due to overheating and dehydration
  • Being lethargic and sluggish
  • Sudden weight loss. This can be a sign of stress or a symptom of a diseases
  • Tail drop. This is usually the result of your gecko feeling stressed, especially during handling. That’s why it’s so important to know how to handle your Crested gecko in a safe way. Read here about how to handle your Crested gecko How To Hold A Crested Gecko: Tips On Handling Crested Gecko

If your Crested gecko is exhibiting any of the listed stress signs, you should investigate the following possible causes:

  • Are they being handled correctly
  • Is their sleep cycle disrupted
  • Are they getting the nutrients they need from their diet
  • Humidity and temperature levels
  • Does their habitat setup meet their needs
  • Is stress a symptom of an underlying disease

To ensure your Crested gecko stays healthy, it is recommended that you:

  • Regularly monitor what your gecko’s normal behaviour is. This way you can easily notice when they are acting “out of character”
  • If any stress symptoms are persisting, always seek help from a specialized vet
  • Remember that stress in Crested geckos shouldn’t be ignored as it can be fatal

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